Sunday, February 13, 2011

So What's Fido Getting for Valentine's Day?

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about sharing the love.  It’s one of the major spending holidays in the US and an indicator for economic growth and consumer trends.  So I was interested to see a survey published by the National Retail Federation (NRF) that showed that since 2007, the last pre-recessionary year, US retail spending habits for Valentine’s Day have changed.

In particular, there’s a definite upward trend in folks spending on gifts for their pets.  There are also more dollars being spent on jewelry which I hope means that the “bling” you just purchased is for me and not for Spot.  The NRF’s 2011 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey also found that candy and apparel sales should all provide a winter time boost for retailers.  In fact the overall forecast for the total 2011 Valentine’s Day spending is $15.7 billion.  This is an increase of about 11% over 2010’s forecast of $14.1 billion but still below 2008’s of $17.0 billion.

But what about cards you ask?  After all, Valentine’s Day is the second-biggest card-giving holiday in the US.  As it turns out, according to the NRF’s survey, greeting cards continue to be the most popular gift option at 52.1%.  However, in 2009 Experian Simmons reported that eCards were just as popular as the traditional paper ones.  And I imagine that eCard popularity has increased in the last two years along with the adoption of mobile phones.  So I’m betting that this year eCards will probably surpass the traditional ones.

On flowers, the Experian research found that younger and older consumers are most likely to give flowers evidently because they can’t think of another present. This could mean that flowers are either a last-minute gift choice, or that consumers think flowers are appropriate for any occasion which is of course, what florists have been telling us for years.

As usual, men are projected to spend the most on Valentine’s Day gifts.  In the NRF’s survey, men said that they plan to shell out twice as much as women, ($159 versus $76).  But remember this is “self-reported” and in my experience a loved one’s perception and their reality often prove to be two entirely different things. No matter, give a kiss anyway and you have a great February 14th.  As for me, I’m off to buy a nice celebratory chewy for Mellow or maybe I should get her that double-fleece night reflective doggy coat! 
See also Mashable's Post, Social  Networking Americans' Valentine's Day Plans! 

Chart: NRF_Vday

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When the Creator Becomes the Creation

This video is part of the fascinating digital ethnography program at Kansas State University directed by Dr. Michael Wesch.

P.S  Look Mom, No Writers!  Narrative Science raises $6 million for human-free stories.  Not a puppy mill a content mill. Also see Content Farms: What are They and Why They Won't Go Away